I’m such a liar. I lie about tons of things. I don’t lie about where I am, or where I’ve been. I don’t lie about people I’ve met. I don’t tell elaborate stories to make my life seem glamorous. I don’t lie about my age or my weight…well not unless I’m trying to convince the doctor or the DMV that there is no way I am as fat as I really am. No, I tell lies about my happiness. I lie about how satisfied I am with my life. I lie to cover the sins of others. I lie about not being stressed or worried. I lie about painful things that continue to hurt and haunt me each night. Mostly, I lie about how strong and resilient I am.

My life has not been easy or particularly stress free.  I’ve experienced abuse and abandonment. I know all to well the feeling of not wanting to live anymore. Some of the troubles I have faced are because of my own actions. Some of the more painful experiences come from pain, physically and emotionally, inflicted on me. I was in foster care when I was a child due to my birth mother having an addiction to crack. While in foster care, I was repeatedly molested by an older boy in one of my foster homes. I thought I was finally saved when I was adopted. While I am forever grateful to my adoptive mother, I continued to suffer from sexual abuse and emotional problems. It was during these times, I became a masterful liar, displaying an upbeat attitude and infectious smile most days while quietly suffering. I constantly questioned why I seemed to be the chosen victim for my abuser’s actions, what about me wasn’t good enough to be loved by my birth mother and absent father, and why I wasn’t beautiful as other girls around me. I began to try my hardest to work towards making myself the best, while inside; I continued to live in agony.

I went on to graduate from both college and graduate school, a feat that showed I beat the statistics and I over-exceeded the expectations society placed on me. On the surface, I fell into the act of pretending to be so proud of the woman I had become. I became so skilled in telling my story with such vibrancy and fervor, that I almost started to believe that I was such an inspiration to other children/people who were experiencing or had experienced life as I had. I was often told by people around me that I made them so proud and that I would go on to make a real difference in the lives of others. It was nice to hear that people believed I was capable of the impossible, so I continued to build on that lie. I began working with the most vulnerable populations. I volunteered for Girl Scouts, I became a foster care worker, I became active in church; I made myself into a person others would be proud of.

Yet it was all a lie. There was no truth to the person I portrayed to the world. I was not strong; I was weak. I was not an inspiration; I was a failure. I was not a role model; I was a fraud.

It is becoming exhausting living a lie. I recently made the choice to live in my truth and it may be the most terrifying moment of my life.